THE SISTER OF URSULA (1978)
Coming from the Italian wave of sleazy cinema known as giallo, this relatively obscure offering provides more flesh than fear, but certainly has enough eye opening moments to keep fans of that subgenre entertained.
Two sisters, Ursula (Magnolfi) and Dagmar (D’Amario) are searching for their mother who disappeared some time previous. Making themselves at home at a hotel by the sea – it’s literally less than three minutes before Dagmar has undressed to nothing – they get embroiled in a series of horrible murders, which Ursula also sees in her terrifying nightmares.
Amid the backdrop of sun, sea, nightclubs, sex, and drugs, the bodies begin piling up. Men are sliced and diced with the sharpest (and coolest looking) knives, while the obligatory black-gloved stalker has a more horrible fate for the promiscuous women. Their reproductive organs are quite literally torn apart by the vicious killer. The list of suspects mounts up as fast as the bodies, and indeed, as fast as the copulation.
While not the greatest example of giallo, there’s still plenty of interesting points and it ticks many of the boxes of what one would expect. The main problem, however, is the ratio of sex to murder. While we’re not adverse to either in our horror films, the naked fumbling tends to overpower the slaughter. We’re shown mostly the aftermath of the killings, which of course is still effective, but is somewhat of an anti-climax when the build-up is handled so well. The shots of the murderer’s eyes – although repeated a little too often – are sinister enough to chill, and by using fabulous ploys such as shadows and reaction shots, the murder weapon is kept as secret as it could be until the final reveal. You will probably be able to guess it, but it’s still so unique (even for a giallo) that it’s brilliant.
As with many of its type, it has a luscious score by Mimi Uva, which while not as memorable as some, still gives the required flavour. It may fail as an erotic thriller (there were attempts to release it with non-director approved hardcore scenes) but it’s certainly passable as a lower level entry to the subgenre.
Shameless’ release has ported over the brilliant thirty-minute featurette with the writer/director Milioni being incredibly candid and honest about the making of the film and his memories and fate of the cast, and is certainly worth a look. There’s also almost half-an-hour of trailers for other Shameless releases which in itself is as entertaining (if not more in some cases) as the films themselves.
INFO: / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ENZO MILIONI / STARRING: BARBARA MAGNOLFI, STEFANIA D’AMARIO, ANNA ZINNEMANN, ANTINISKA NEMOUR / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW